I encourage students to apply for the Library Research Award for Undergraduates with faculty support if so. The deadline is May 18, 2009 and the project doesn't have to be 100% complete right now in order to begin the application process.
Even if you're not in the UW community check out the great Faculty Toolkit on how to design effective research assignments that include strategies for lifelong best practices for research. I certainly fell in the 'trial and error' undergraduate research category and it was only by chance I received some helpful advice along the way from my professors.
By the time they are ready to graduate, many students have learned new research strategies through trial and error in several different courses. They learned that the research process is recursive---looking forward to analysis, back to the research questions, then returning to the data/readings. But students tell us that this learning could have occurred more smoothly, and earlier, if they'd gotten experienced researchers' help with three challenges posed by the research task:
- constructing an inquiry's focus;
- making sense of the chaos of data or readings; and
- composing the report of findings or the argument.
Full disclosure: I had heard of but not known the details about this award until I received an email from the award's co-chairs that included "Librarians who teach, write blogs or newsletters, or meet with faculty and students have been key to encouraging students to apply and faculty to get involved, too." How cool is that acknowledgment of the value of librarian bloggers?